‘Mixed emotions’ among neighbors on 3rd anniversary of Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct burning

Mixed emotions among neighbors on 3rd anniversary of Minneapolis’ 3rd precinct fire

Mixed emotions among neighbors on 3rd anniversary of Minneapolis' 3rd precinct fire

Sunday marks three years since Minneapolis’ 3rd Police Precinct was set on fire in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

There are mixed feelings amongst neighbors in 2023 about the future of the building and policing in the 3rd Precinct, but what they remember from the night of May 28, 2020 was largely similar: The smell and heat from the fires, the billowing tear gas and the sound of flash-bangs for days.

“I could hear the organizers all calling for calm, and I knew things were not going to be calm, I could feel it,” Joseph Fortier, who lives around the corner from the 3rd Precinct, remembered.

“One day I woke up and there were fires all around me,” he continued. “It was a very intense time.”

“I was hot, I was pissed off,” another neighbor remembered feeling three years ago.

“They ain’t protecting us, I can tell you that,” he added, pointing to the precinct building.

That night has been burned into neighbors’ memories for good.

“It was a spark, it was a trigger, it was something that made us pay attention,” Fortier added.

“There’s documented evidence about what happened in that building, and it’s grotesque. It’s not one incident and it happened for decades,” said Sam Gould, the co-founder of the neighborhood print shop and advocacy organization Confluence Studio.

It was founded in 2020 “basically to create a newsroom for neighbors,” Gould explained, as he showed 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the set-up inside a repurposed shipping container yards from the former 3rd Precinct building.

All in all, the Minneapolis Fire Department reported responding to roughly 30 fires overnight from May 28-29, 2020, 16 of them structure fires that also took down several local businesses.

“The most crushing moment for me was the second round of burnings. The first round of burnings were clearly opportunistic, but the second round, they were intentional and thorough in a way that was soul-crushing,” Fortier said.

“It was shocking,” Gould added. “I mean, I haven’t experienced anything like that in my life, and I don’t want to experience it again. But that’s why neighbors have to work with one another, and the city has to listen because it will happen again, if we repeat the same mistakes.”

Confluence Studio in May began hosting monthly conversations about the future of the building and policing, or other forms of security, in the area. Those will continue for the next year, Gould said.

It comes after City leaders closed an April survey that asked Minneapolis residents to choose between rebuilding the precinct where it is or build a new, more expensive one down the street.

A couple of neighborhood groups and Confluence Studio were frustrated by the process and said, they’ll reject either option.

The City has told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it will not release the results of its survey until at least late June.